Tower Hamlets Council goes the extra mile to ensure good food for residents

NEW report, Good Food Local: The London Report, published today by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, has awarded Tower Hamlets Council a Leadership Award for its commitment to healthy and sustainable food initiatives.   

The report measured the council’s approach to food within the borough with measurement across multiple areas, such as response to the cost-of-living crisis, children’s food, healthier food environments and food growing. Tower Hamlets Council showed strong cross-cutting leadership across different disciplines.  

Lutfur Rahman, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets said:  

“We know that what people eat on a daily basis is the foundation for their health over the long-term and that’s why we’ve been doing all that we can to ensure our residents, particularly those most vulnerable, have access to healthy food.  

We want to thank our local partners, community organisations, staff and volunteers that work tirelessly to continue to improve the local environment and distribute healthy food.” 

A few of the initiatives the council has been recognised for include: 

  • introducing a healthier advertising policy that restricts the advertising of unhealthy food and non-alcoholic drink products high in fat, salt and sugar 

  • becoming the first local authority in England to fund universal free school meals in secondary schools up to the age of 16  

  • continuing the Food for Health awards scheme that recognises those food services that offer healthier options for their customers 

  • implementing a three-year programme to engage all primary schools around school food and the school food environment. 

  • providing food to 60 VCS organisations including our FOOD Pantry network to provide crisis support to residents experiencing food insecurity. 

  • two fruit and vegetable voucher projects running for a second year supporting 250 low-income families experiencing food insecurity 

  • supporting over 36 food growing spaces, which have produced more than 15 tonnes of fruit and vegetables 

  • working with the Felix project to redistribute surplus food to the food aid network. 

The report coincides with the five-year anniversary of the Transport for London advertising policy restricting adverts for unhealthy foods. An economic health model published in The International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity found that the TfL policy alone could prevent 95,000 cases of obesity and reduce sugary food purchases by 20%, with positive effects now rolling out across boroughs. 

Amongst 29 councils surveyed for the report by Sustain, Tower Hamlets Council is one of 11 to have received an award for their work with food, alongside Camden, Islington, Lambeth, Newham, Southwark and Greenwich.  

Bella Driessen, Local Policy Coordinator at Sustain says: “In our twelfth year of writing this report, it is fantastic to see continued progress across the capital. Despite incredibly tight budgets, and grappling with the cost-of-living crisis, councils have shown they are committed to making food healthier, more sustainable, and more accessible for their residents. We are delighted to be presenting awards to several councils that are doing remarkable work for their communities, and we commend all the councils that took part in the survey and are making efforts to champion good food.” 

Cllr Gulam Choudhury, Lead Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care said:

“We are pleased to be recognised for our efforts to improve the food landscape but also know this is an ongoing challenge.  

We’ll continue to review how we can keep up the momentum, despite funding cuts, as we are committed to building a sustainable future from our successes.” 

Read the full report.